Some essential Knots a Sailor must know!

A ship is a place, where everything must go with seamanship practices.  Sailor’s knot is not one day learning project / single turn job. There are long-term experience and practice.

Onboard a ship Bosun is a rank, who used to be a very experienced guy as a Sailor. Cadet / Ordinary seamen are learning from him, how to tie the knots properly and where they can be safely used.

Below are few essential knots for a seaman :


Probably most used knot’s all over the world, not only for seafarers. This knot is a great aid when mooring to a bollard. One of the very common used onboard a commercial ship is to make mooring ropes emergency eye, also you can even use two bowline knots to join two ropes together.

YOU MUST HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO TIE A BOWLINE or you lose all credibility as a sailor!

The double bowline is used if you need a stronger knot and if you need to tie it on a line and if don’t have access to the ends try a Bowline on the Bight.

There is a common story on how to tie a bowline:

“The otter that comes out of the pond goes around the tree and then goes back in the water.” 

3 steps to understand:-

Step 1 : Otter comes out from the pond

Step 2 : Goes around the tree and

Step 3 : Goes back in the water.

Figure of Eight Knot

This is a stopper knot, and very simple too. Normally all human being learns this knot at first. I think the picture will let you understand very much easily how to knot.

Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

A good general knot to use for tying up. It’s easy and fast and I believe the below pictures will let you remember how to make it!

       A series of picture showed for your better understanding.

Reef Knot

The reef knot should only be used when it is not serious if the knot comes undone. I don’t prefer to use it for heavy-duty purposes. You can’t trust it because if you pull on one end and not the other the knot slips and stops holding. Even worse if you don’t tie the second loop correctly you end up with a Granny Knot and that is no good at all.

Sheet Bend

The Sheet bend is stellar when it comes to tying 2 ropes together.

Highwayman’s Hitch

The Highwayman’s hitch is useful when you want to cast off by just pulling on the loose end of the line. This unties the knot and frees the line, and away you go.

The story goes that it was used by Highwaymen who had to untie their horses quickly to getaway.

I’ve seen this knot used while towing, to allow the towing line to be quickly released in case of trouble.

This is not a reliable knot and wave action pulling and slacking the knot. The Highway man’s knot is only useful for short periods when someone is watching the job places.

Rolling Hitch

The rolling hitch ties on to another line and it can be used to pull some slack in it to release a bind in a block or winch. You will see this knot is used onboard a vessel several times.

Cleat Hitch

You will use this knot all the time when you go sailing, either to tie something with a hook or to secure the halyards to the mast. One of the most essential knots.

It’s amazing if as a sailor you don’t know how to cleat a line properly.

Constrictor Knot

This knot never lets go. That’s why it’s one of my essential knots. You need a really solid reliable knot like that. I use one on the boom to attach the little block for the main sheet. I also have a constrictor knot holding the upper spar of the balanced lug on my apple pie dinghy rig.

At the end of the season I cut the knot off.

Anchor Bend

The anchor bend holds better than the half-turn and two half-hitches and keeps an anchor line tied to the chain.

The anchor bend holds well but the line might break at the knot position if you don’t keep an eye on it and occasionally tie it in another spot that is not worn. It’s better to work a grommet in the line and use a cleat to tie to the chain if you need a more permanent fastening.

If any points interests you, please comments below. Thank you for your interest on Marine legends.

Bon Voyage.

About marinelegends 20 Articles
I am a Muslim Master Mariner MH Rahman, living in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


    • Assalamualaikum Dear,
      Thanks for your kind interest on Marine Legends. This is a highly motivational comments for us.
      Best Regards

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